Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are a wondrous and even mysterious natural phenomenon. These shimmering ribbons of rainbow-coloured light dance across the night sky 300 days a year. While they are most often a pale yellowish-green, there are also spectacular blue and purplish-red aurora borealis and sometimes red coloured lights. Churchill is one of the top-three places in the world where you can see the Aurora Borealis.
The Magnetism of the North
Northern Lights are formed when particles in the solar winds above earth's atmosphere are drawn into our world by polar magnetic fields—you've probably heard of “magnetic north” when your compass pulls towards the Pole. The particles dance about and collide with one another, causing tiny explosions that produce light. Put together billions of them, add gases from our atmosphere that influence colour, and you have the glorious Northern Lights.
This atmospheric activity happens 24-7 but it is only in a clear and dark night sky that we can see the Aurora Borealis. In the Churchill area, with its long fall and winter nights, there is no light pollution produced by humans, meaning nature's greatest light show is visible to us all.
Can you hear them?
Seeing the Northern Lights is breathtaking enough, but many people claim to hear them as well!
Many people hear a swishing sound as the lights dance around and some hear electronic crackling sounds. But science has not been able to explain why. The most interesting theory about this glorious mystery is that the sound is actually happening in our heads as the part of our brains that produces sight “leaks” into the part that produces sound. Plus with the eerie Northern silence, our brains can forget all the noise and concentrate on what we see and hear around us.
Abundant clear winter nights and Churchill's lack of light and noise pollution make it a great place to see the lights without having to stray too far from the cozy comfort of indoors. Dog Mushing, which usually takes place in the evening, is part of the Ultimate Polar Bear Expedition and offers a great opportunity to see the Northern Lights in all their majestic beauty.